Today on the blog we revisit some of the comments we’ve received from our community over the past couple of weeks in response to our latest issue of Selvedge, Issue 102 Mend. It’s clear that many of our followers have fond memories of relatives darning stockings and socks, and many more who continue to use the techniques passed down generations to mend and repair items of clothing today. We were inspired to read all your comments and hope you are inspired to mend too.
This is something I have started to do in the last couple of years. It was something my parents did and I got away from it for a number of years. It makes sense, gives a feeling of satisfaction, and is good for the planet. What could be better?
Linda Flaten Carlson
I'm under 90, but I did learn how to darn socks. The reason was to earn a Girl Scout badge. The one who taught me how was my remarkably talented father!
I can see my Nanny with her blue darning mushroom, darning jumpers, socks and even mending holes in shirts almost invisibly…. This skill came from war time thrift …. Sheets were cut and turned to the middle and seamed and shirt collars were replaced. I do my best but can never achieve what she did…
Image: Photo from Fiona Collingwood-Norris' new book Visible Creative Mending for Knitwear.
I darn and repair everything in sight and have done from the seventies. Why wouldn't you? I've even darned a toe in a much loved pair of Vans pumps for my son.
We had a sock darning ritual....My Grandma insisted on darning my Dad's socks. He would save them up for her. Truth is he never wore them afterwards as they were so uncomfortable. We all played along and she was happy. I still have the cards of darning wool which I use to fix knitwear at work. 10p from Woolworths.
For many decades women did not speak up when excluded from conversations that directly affected them thus this comment: I have darned many pairs of very expensive high end wool socks, And i did this without prior experience or directions. My grandmother taught me to knit while i was very young & so i did have some idea of how this might be approached. I am a male & I am an expert sewer.My Father was a cattle rancher & we employed professional cowboys everyone of whom, if they had served in the military including my Father, had served in the Navy! This is important because every small craft sailor I have ever met can & do sew and some very well.Every smaller sail boat i have been on carried needlecraft supplies and most cowboys i have met did as well. So as the saying goes "A stitch in time saves nine".
I learned how to mend, darn and embroider when I was a little girl. It was at an all girls convent boarding school run by Angelic Sisters of Saint Paul and we were taught by the nuns and novices. This was the normal education for girls in the country where we lived. I also learn how to play the piano, cook and other skills to maintain and run a proper household...this was besides all our academic studies. To this very day I practice my darning, mending and embroidery skills that I learned in the school. Needless to say my daughters are in awe at my interesting "skills"...sadly I never taught them since I felt it wasn't necessary at this day and age...I was wrong. I find those skills so relaxing and therapeutic.
Those sensible women who didn't learn darning but got an education and avoided domestic drudgery for men who saw only their own comfort in marriage. I wonder however, how many could darn and so repair their own clothing, but didn't feel the need to take on another's? It's always worth looking to see whose words are being quoted and that there was usually an unrecorded or ignored female perspective.